8 Common Types of Food Allergies You Need to Know

common types of food allergies

What are the common types of food allergies? And how do you know if you have any symptoms? In this post, you’ll find out.

Your immune defense is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful microorganisms or foreign bodies. These foreign bodies can potentially make you sick. 

Sometimes, your immune defense may tend to overreact to substances such as food protein that were supposed to be harmless.

As a result, you experience having itchy skin, digestive disturbances, or, worst swollen airways.

If you have these symptoms, that depicts that your body might have ingested a food allergen – a substance that causes allergic reactions.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy happens when you have ingested any allergen-containing food or substance.

These allergen substances cause your body’s natural defenses to overreact and fight against the invader by sending out chemicals in its defense.

Research shows that food allergies can start as early as childhood or later in adulthood. 

Having food allergies is a condition that should not be taken lightly as it can also be life-threatening. 

Allergic reactions vary from mild to severe, depending on your body’s response.

Food allergies have two categories

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated allergy symptoms occur if your immune system has reacted to certain foods that trigger to produce antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

This food allergy commonly happens with infants and children who are allergic to milk, eggs, soy, wheat, and tree nuts.

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Also, the allergic reaction can externally occur on the skin, mouth, eyes, or internally in the lungs, heart, gut, and brain.

Non-IgE mediated

Non-IgE mediated allergy symptoms occurred when your immune system did not have to produce the IgE antibody.

Mostly, it happens in the digestive tract, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of a non-IgE mediated food allergy can take up to 3 days to develop.

Somehow, a person can have both IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated allergic reactions

Common types of food allergies

Any food can cause allergies. Here are eight types of food allergies that you might suffer from:

1. Wheat allergy

Wheat allergies occur if you experience an allergic reaction after eating wheat-containing foods or inhaling wheat flour.

Examples of wheat products are:

  • bread
  • crackers
  • pasta
  • porridge
  • biscuits
  • muesli
  • muffins
  • rolls
  • doughnuts
  • gravies
  • semolina
  • cakes
  • cookies, and more 

Although wheat has a high nutritional value and palatability, there’s something else.

It is recognized as an allergen that can activate both immunoglobulin E (IgE) and non-IgE immune responses.

Wheat allergy exempts no one. Symptoms of this condition can rapidly develop within a few minutes to hours after wheat consumption.

One may experience symptoms such as:

If you have a wheat allergy, it is recommended that you follow a wheat-free diet that is less restrictive than the gluten-free diet.

2. Egg allergy

Eggs contain allergens that can cause an allergic reaction, especially among infants and children.

In most cases, many children can outgrow this condition before they reach the teenage stage. 

Egg allergy symptoms range from mild to severe, and it occurs a few minutes to a few hours after eating eggs or egg-containing foods.

Symptoms include rashes, hives, and vomiting, nasal congestion, or digestive disturbance.

Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, rarely happens when it comes to egg allergies, though. 

3. Soybean allergy

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Soybean is part of the legume family. Soy is a common ingredient for many Asian foods and processed foods.

Furthermore, it is also used in infant formulas.

If you get a rash, runny nose, dizziness, confusion, wheezing, or stomach ache, after eating or drinking soy products, that could mean that you are allergic to soy

Soy allergy also commonly happens in young children.

The allergic reactions typically develop during infancy or early childhood, but many can outgrow this condition over time. 

4. Milk allergy

Cow milk allergy both occurs in IgE and non-IgE forms.

Among the two, the IgE-mediated symptoms are the most common and potentially the most severe allergic reaction after consuming cow’s milk. 

Allergies caused by cow’s milk often occur in infants and young children.

This is especially the case when they have ingested the protein in cow’s milk protein before six months of age. 

Moreover, cow milk allergy symptoms typically occur a few days or weeks after the ingestion. Rapid onset of cow allergy symptoms include:

  • hives
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • coughing or shortness of breath
  • angioedema, and
  • anaphylaxis

Slow-onset symptoms can consist of abdominal cramps, diarrhea, hematochezia, or colic.

If you are diagnosed to be allergic to cow’s milk, all you need to do is avoid food and drink products containing cow’s milk.

For example milk, cheese, margarine, butter, cream, and yogurt, ice cream, and more.

As for non-breastfeeding infants, give them a milk-based formula that is recommended by their doctor. 

5. Shellfish allergy

You have a shellfish allergy if your immune system abnormally responds after eating shellfish.

Examples of shellfish are shrimps, crabs, squid, lobsters, oysters, scallops, or the like.

The allergic reactions range from mild to severe, and it develops within a few minutes to hours after consuming shellfish. 

Shellfish allergy symptoms may include itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

You may also experience wheezing or trouble breathing, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or dizziness.

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In the worst case, one can also experience anaphylaxis.

If you are allergic to shellfish, you may avoid eating foods that contain shellfish.

Ask the restaurant staff how the food is prepared just to be sure. Also, read the food labels as there are products with “fish stock” or “seafood flavoring.” 

6. Fish allergy

Not all kinds of fishes can cause allergy, though. A study revealed the common allergy-triggering fishes are tuna, salmon, catfish, and cod. 

Fish proteins bind to IgE antibodies and trigger the body’s immune defenses, leading to mild to severe allergy symptoms.

These symptoms are:

  • skin rash or hives
  • stomach cramps
  • indigestion
  • nausea
  • vomiting, and diarrhea
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • headache
  • asthma
  • anaphylaxis

To prevent an allergic reaction caused by fish products, it is essential to avoid all particular fish and fish products. Read the labels before eating.

7. Peanuts allergy

Peanut allergy can cause severe allergy attacks. Unchecked, even tiny amounts of it can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

Peanut exposure can happen through direct contact, cross-contact, or inhalation. 

Peanut allergy is seen to occur more in children. The allergy symptoms can develop within minutes after exposure.

In addition, one may experience hives, itching in or around the mouth and throat, diarrhea.

Other symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, or a runny nose. In severe cases, anaphylaxis.

8. Tree nuts allergy

Tree nut allergies occur in both adults and children in mild to severe symptoms.

One may be allergic to one or more types of tree nuts such as:

  • almonds
  • cashew
  • pistachios
  • macadamia nuts
  • pine nuts, pecans
  • walnuts
  • lychee nuts
  • hazelnuts

Allergy symptoms from eating tree nuts develop symptoms within minutes to a few hours, and it can be severe at times.

Tree nut allergy symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting or diarrhea.

You may also have difficulty swallowing, itching (throat, mouth, skin, eyes, and other body parts), or breathing. Other symptoms are nasal congestion and anaphylaxis.

It is best to avoid tree nuts and tree nut food-containing products.

Check the food labels and make sure that the dish you are going to eat is free from tree-nuts.

This is mostly a common ingredient in Asian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisines. 

Takeaway

These types of food allergies are common and should not be taken lightly.

Remember these eight allergy-causing foods: wheat, egg, soybean, cow’s milk, shellfish, fishes, peanuts, and tree nuts. 

Food allergies cause your immune system to incorrectly attack harmless food proteins, recognizing it as a foreign body that needs to be eliminated.

The allergic reactions vary from mild to life-threatening. And the only treatment for it is the elimination of allergen-containing foods from your diet.

Or, you can have your doctor prescribe you drugs that can help control the allergic reactions. 

(Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian)

Dorothy is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian and a candidate for a master's degree in Public Health (MPH) major in Public Health Nutrition. She has a passion for teaching to her university students about food, nutrition, and health. Dorothy is a coffee lover and she enjoys traveling, writing, cycling, running, cooking, baking, and cooking.